Believe it or not, but the holidays will be upon us before we know it! There will be plenty of shopping, entertaining, decorating, wrapping, cooking, cleaning and merry-making to go around in the weeks leading up to the Holidays.

But – rather than adding the heavy responsibility of creating, printing, stuffing, sealing, labeling and posting a teetering tower of holiday cards to your to do list – why not take a cue from technology and make plans to send customized DIGITAL HOLIDAY CARD to your associates, vendors, and clients this year?

All you need to get started is a list of recipients and a strong creative partner to craft and send a professionally designed holiday e-card of which you can be proud. It’s like setting the table for a holiday feast and letting someone else take care of the cooking, serving and cleaning – all you have to do is sit back, relax and ENJOY!

Need a little more convincing? Here are a few more benefits to making the switch from tangible holiday cards to e-cards:

  1. E-Cards are Planet-Friendly: According to RecycleWorks.org, an estimated 2.6 billion holiday cards are sold each year in the United States. That’s enough to fill a football field 10 stories high! If we all sent one less card this year, we could save 50,000 cubic yards of paper (that’s THOUSANDS of TREES!) Electronic holiday greeting cards serve as a waste-free alternative.
  2. E-Cards are Cost-Effective: What good business leader ISN’T concerned with saving his or her company money? While e-cards are not cost-free – due to design costs and e-card platform subscription – you won’t have to pay for printing and posting, OR lost hours devoted to stuffing, labeling and sealing your paper cards.
  3. E-Cards Boast a Fast Turn-Around Time: Consider the time that goes into designing and printing a paper card, not to mention the flurry of activity that follows just to get that card to its intended destination. While an e-card does require design time, once approved – with your list of recipients uploaded to the e-card platform of choice – a click of the mouse is all it takes to send it to dozens, hundreds and thousands of inboxes.
  4. E-Cards are Trackable: When you post and mail a holiday card in the traditional way, you take it on faith that it will make it to its intended destination. Unless you receive a response thanking you for said card, you may never know for sure. E-cards – on the other hand – are trackable. You can see who opened your card, how many times they opened it and when.
  5. E-Cards are Excellent Marketing Tools: You may elect to send one paper card to a client in hopes that it will be displayed somewhere for everyone to see. A professionally designed e-card can be sent to any number of employees at one company to increase your reach and solidify your brand company-wide.
  6. E-Cards can be Animated: Why mail a flat printed card when you COULD send an e-card that virtually jumps off the computer screen. An animated e-card is far more engaging and more likely to be shared and talked about!
  7. E-Cards can be Shared on Social Media (and MORE!): It’s not uncommon to miss a person or two (or TWENTY) on your holiday card list. By sharing your e-card on all of your social media platforms, you increase your reach by leaps and bounds. Depending on the platform used to create it, you may even be able to share your e-card on your website – a terrific way to send Happy Holiday wishes to everyone who visits your website. If you feature a TV screen in your office lobby, you could even show your holiday card on a loop to share with everyone who walks through your front door.

Atlanta marketing agency, Woodall Creative Group is currently taking orders for Holiday E-cards! Get a jump on the holiday season by checking this very important item off your to do list!  Our talented team of graphic design elves is eager to get started on crafting an eye-catching e-card that promotes your company brand. Getting started is easy! Simply contact us at design@woodallcreative.com, call us at 706-658-0244 or fill out our convenient online contact form.

Looking for some design inspiration?
Here are just a few samples of e-cards we’ve designed for some of our awesome clients…

Although marketing is an extremely wise investment when trying to build your company’s unique brand image and grow your bottom line, client base and reputation in the marketplace, not all forms of marketing call for large sums of cash to help get your story out there. As a marketing agency with more than 25 years, dozens of awards and a diverse roster of clients to its credit, Woodall Creative Group has not only guided its clients into using cost-effective – and sometimes cost-free – marketing tools, but has also applied all of the following tips to grow their own business. So let’s count down the 10 Marketing Tips That Don’t Cost a Dime:

  1. Be Proactive in the Marketing of Your Business: The first – and most important – bit of advice regarding marketing is to DO IT! All too often, companies allow the marketing of their brand to take a backseat to more pressing matters – only to learn later that they should have never taken their foot off the gas. Plan a marketing calendar – keeping it active and fairly steady year-round with spikes in activity leading into your most lucrative months or seasons. Never fly by the seat of your pants – your company’s success is far too important for that.
  2. Identify and Leverage your Competitive Advantage: Really focus on what makes your company special. What sets it apart from the competition? Next, ask yourself “What do prospective clients have to gain from this advantage?” Are you the least expensive or most experienced? Do you provide top-notch customer service or a proprietary product? Do you offer extended hours or specialized services? While gaining insights to your own business, become a student of your competitors in order to discover what you can do or provide that they cannot and then weave it into all of your messaging – from copy on your website to prospect communications to talking points at network events. Make your competitive advantage an integral part of your overall brand and remain consistent in your use of that advantage in all digital and traditional marketing.
  3. Make Sure Prospective Customers Can Find You: Did you know that nearly half of U.S. adults said they have Googled someone before doing business with them? With so much research being conducted online before a prospect ever picks up a phone or sets foot inside your brick-and-mortar location, you need to make sure your company is listed anywhere and everywhere possible. There are a wide variety of free options, such as social media sites, city business directories and websites like Google Local, YellowPages.com, BizHwy.com and more. If you’re a member of a Chamber of Commerce or industry-specific organization, make sure your company is listed in their online directory. Take care to research keywords that will help get your company noticed and weave them into your business description in every directory and take full advantage of each listing – filling out as much information as you can in hopes of driving traffic to your website and through your front door.
  4. They Like You, They Really Like You: You know when you’ve had a great customer interaction, or when they’ve had a positive experience. Don’t be shy! Ask for a positive review. If your company is set up for reviews on Facebook, ask your customers to share their experience with others. If you are on a site like Yelp, TripAdvisor or an industry-specific review site, ask them to review you there. Did you know that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation and 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more? It’s worth it to ask, and it might make that customer feel special to know they’re doing something to help a local small business. Even better, the best reviews can be repurposed as client testimonies for use on your website, in social media posts, in newsletters, as references to potential clients and more!
  5. Word of Mouth Still Reigns Supreme: In addition to reviews, you can also ask your best customers to serve as ambassadors and directly refer your company to friends, family, business associates, neighbors, church members, anyone and everyone who will listen. You can also take it one step further and look to your affiliates to do the same in a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” spirit of doing business. Related companies within the same or similar industries make great referrals, such as a dentist referring a patient to an orthodontist, an architect referring a client to an engineer or builder, etc… Make relationship building a major part of your marketing strategy. If you don’t have a referral rewards program in place, considering adding one to cultivate and reward referrals. Fostering a solid referral stream is one of the most effective ways to grow a business.
  6. Set Your Sights on Being an Industry Expert: It’s not enough to be the best at what you do – you have to let others know that you’re the best at what you do. Start positioning your company and members of its leadership team as experts in your industry. Create a personal brand for each expert in your company. Network, write blogs, create webinars, book speaking engagements, submit your work for awards, offer yourself as a source for local journalists and more in order to share your knowledge and grow your brand.
  7. Narrow Down Your Target Audience: While casting a wider net CAN work in catching customers, it’s far from ideal. Instead, really drill down to define your target audience – for instance, companies that might benefit from a relationship with your company. Identify the “Top 20” with which you’d like to get a foot in the door to start. Become familiar with each of their businesses and all of the key players you’d like to reach. When you do market to them, do so in a personal, authentic and approachable way while conveying your all-important brand image and communicating CLEARLY why they should do business with you.
  8. The Show Must Go On: Once you’ve narrowed down your target audience and begun making contact, meetings with prospects should soon follow. But don’t just hand over a proposal, thank them for their time and be on your merry way at the end of the meeting. Use this opportunity to set a date for the NEXT meeting. Before the next meeting takes place, keep the dialogue going in order to stay top of mind for that prospect and continue to build on that initial relationship. Chances are, you’re not the ONLY one in your industry with whom they’ve set a meeting. Stay in the game by sending a follow-up email and/or making a follow-up call, sharing relevant blogs, adding them to your e-newsletter database and more. All of these can be pre-designed and set to a schedule so it doesn’t require a lot of extra thought on your part. Just make sure these follow-ups feel fresh and personalized, rather than canned.
  9. Place an Emphasis on Long-Term Client Retention: In the pursuit of new customers, the existing customer is sometimes lost in the mix. A large part of your marketing calendar should include marketing to CURRENT customers with a goal of building long-term relationships. Let them know you appreciate them. BUILD on that existing relationship by offering additional services that could benefit them. After all, a happy customer is one of the best marketing tools you can have!
  10. Market, Rinse, Repeat: Once your marketing calendar is starting to wind down, it’s time to start building another one. Don’t take your eye off the ball. Track what elements worked and what didn’t. For those that didn’t work as well as you’d hoped, ask yourself WHY and consider tweaking those elements in hopes of achieving better results the next go-around. Build your new marketing calendar to be even stronger and more robust that the last.

When you ARE ready to invest part of your annual budget into marketing – from cutting edge digital means to tried-and-true traditional methods and everything in between – Woodall Creative Group welcomes the opportunity to add your company to our growing list of satisfied customers!

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The key to success in social media marketing is CONSISTENCY – particularly for any company that puts a lot of stock in its social media presence!  Strive for consistency in your company’s brand image, consistency in your messaging (which should always sound as though it is coming from the same centralized figure/being/collective group), consistency of response times and – most importantly – consistency in the number of posts you share with your audience each week. While the statistics may vary with regard to timing and frequency, once your company has found its sweet spot (which often varies by industry and region) – STICK TO IT! In other words, YOU may take a vacation, but your social media presence should NOT. You’ve fought long and hard to build up a following on social media, it would be a shame to lose touch with your core audience – even for a week – only to potentially face weeks of fighting to get in front of them again. That valuable time lost when your competition might have gotten the upper hand! Fortunately for all of us who yearn to put our toes in the sand or ski the slopes from time to time, there are some really great options that mean your social media presence will never have to skip a beat. To save you some time and research, Woodall Creative Group has compiled a number of those options for you here:

  1. Look to Your Creative Partner:  If you already collaborate with an agency on the design of your social media graphics and/or messaging, you may want to look to them to “housesit” your social media accounts while you’re away. You might be pleasantly surprised by the results and may even want to consider making that a permanent gig for them – allowing you the freedom to focus on other more pressing aspects of your job. If they’re really good at what they do (like the award-winning creative team at Woodall Creative Group), they’ll be able to study your posts from the past, discover what resonates most with your core audience, channel the brand image you’ve worked so hard to build and maybe even try a few new tricks to grow and engage your audience. Having a strong social media partner that can get results is worth its weight in gold.
  2. Tap a Social Media Savvy Member of Your Team:  Not that we’re ever ones to stereotype, but millennials are typically social media savvy and may prove a great resource for when you’re going to be out of the office on vacation. However, you don’t want to run the risk of a potential “house party” while you’re away – possibly alienating your core audience with some inconsistent messaging and/or graphics that doesn’t quite jive your brand image. Assign your most reliable team member who ALSO knows their way around your social media channels to pull together 5 to 7 days of messaging and accompanying images PRIOR to your departure for your approval. Once approved, they can stick to the agreed upon plan and post every day that you’re away, giving you the peace of mind you deserve to enjoy your vacation. If they do a good job, you know you can rely on them again during your NEXT vacation.
  3. Build a Social Media Calendar and Automate:  In the event that you manage more than one social media channel and you have yet to discover the joys of automation, be prepared to have your mind blown! In #2 of this list, we suggested you have your social media savvy team member pull together 5 to 7 days of messaging. In the event that you DON’T have a social media savvy and reliable team member to whom you can turn (or you just prefer to do things yourself), YOU can be the one to plan ahead, pull together a social media calendar of 5 to 7 days of messaging (or however long you plan to be gone) and upload/schedule those messages through an automation tool such as HootSuite, Sprout Social or Loomly. Not only will they allow you the freedom to pre-schedule your posts, but they will also allow you to post content to multiple social media platforms. While this may mean more work for you in the days leading up to your vacation, at least it assures you a stress-free, well-deserved break from the office once that glorious time arrives. Best of all, many of these automation tools offer free trial periods. You can try several to see which proves the best fit for you and your needs. You may find one that you love SO MUCH that you continue to use it after your vacation – cutting your posting time dramatically and providing you with valuable insights.

Now that you know the reasons WHY you can’t let your social media presence lapse – even for a week – AND three potential ways to cover your social media responsibilities while you’re away, Woodall Creative Group wishes you a peaceful and relaxing vacation! Bon Voyage!!!

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To learn more about Woodall Creative Group and the many ways we can help your company promote its unique brand – both in print and in the digital space – we invite you to visit us online at www.woodallcreative.com.

Is it better to be a small fish in a big pond (where you risk getting gobbled up by bigger fishes) OR to be a big fish in a small pond? It’s a question more and more brands are asking themselves these days. Continuous evolution is the key to survival. Take for instance the recent, tragic case of Toys “R” Us, Inc. One might believe that they had found their niche as THE biggest toy store chain in the world. Unfortunately, its inability to evolve due to mismanaged debt and growing competition from retailers like Walmart have apparently led to its untimely demise – at least here in the U.S. When you read the lamenting tales of bloggers and journalists who grew up as “Toys “R” Us Kids,” it’s clear that the final blow to Toys “R” Us’ success was something deeper… they lost that personal touch – that ability to connect with its audience and make them believe that they, too, should be a “Toys “R” Us Kid.”

The American Marketing Association (AMA) suggests that “as personalization increases, brands will find growth opportunities in niches rather than mass markets.” Trying to be everything to everyone is seemingly only working for Amazon these days. Personalized marketing involves a combination of data analysis and digital technology to deliver personal, targeted messaging to current and prospective customers. In doing so in an effective way, sometimes your niche finds YOU. Through tracking, it should become clear who is responding and to what they are responding. One way to go about it might be to use that knowledge to help find your niche, and then consider a rebrand to fit.

From logo and website to an across the board digital marketing plan, a strategic marketing partner like Woodall Creative Group can not only help you determine that core audience and the messaging they want to hear but can also design a rebrand to which your niche will respond.  Our team was called upon by longtime client, Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academies, in 2010 to help them change the way they were perceived in the market. Virtually since the company’s launch, Kids ‘R’ Kids had used a logo at their schools all across the nation that reflected a more playful vibe. Due to the evolution of their business and the changing perception of early education in the marketplace, Woodall Creative Group revamped their brand from an image related mainly to childcare to that of an elite learning academy – which their new logo reflected. This, in turn, impacted all of their collateral material, signage, messaging, website and more, and eight later, Kids ‘R’ Kids continues to reap the rewards of this gutsy move.

Entrepreneur Magazine has outlined the following five qualities for any good niche:

  1. It takes you where you want to go—in other words, it conforms to your long-term vision.
  2. Somebody else wants it—namely, customers.
  3. It’s carefully planned.
  4. It’s one-of-a-kind, the “only game in town.” – NOTE: While WCG agrees that this an ideal, it’s often a tall order for most brands, particularly in larger cities. However, we firmly believe that just about any company can find something unique that they have to offer their target audience… something that strongly distinguishes them from their competition.
  5. It evolves, allowing you to develop different profit centers and still retain the core business, thus ensuring long-term success.

In today’s world, companies need to resist the age-old practice of casting a broad net and employing shotgun marketing tactics. Instead, consider using these tools to determine your niche:

  • Begin with what YOU want. Define who your ideal customer might be.
  • Next, determine whether or not your product AND your brand image is a good fit for your ideal customer. You may own a cookware retail shop, but your NICHE could be “affluent aspiring chefs”. Your product line should reflect that, as should your messaging and brand image. To enhance your standing among that core group (and increase the level of personalization), you could begin marketing cooking workshops on social media.
  • Now it’s time to start a dialogue. You may conduct a focus group or actually TALK to people who fit your idea of the ideal customer. Find out what they want and how you can improve. This step may involve several layers to determine if you’re ready to pull the trigger or head back to the drawing board.
  • Now that you’ve done your homework, it’s time to take your plan to the implementation stage. This is where your creative partner will prove most helpful as they design a rebrand to fit your niche.

Need help determining your niche and designing a rebrand to fit?  Woodall Creative Group and our talented team of designers, content specialists and account managers welcome the chance to help you! Contact us TODAY to schedule an evaluation of your current brand image and target audience! We can be reached at 706-658-0244, info@woodallcreative.com or via our convenient online contact form.